US President Joe Biden on Friday called on European powers to work together to curb Iran’s “destabilizing” activities in the Middle East, a day after he pledged to resume talks on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.
Biden told the Munich Security Conference that the United States would work closely with allies in dealing with Iran after his predecessor Donald Trump took an aggressive unilateral approach.
“The threat of nuclear proliferation continues to require careful diplomacy and cooperation between us,” Biden told other executives on a conference call.
“That is why we said we are ready to resume negotiations with the P5 + 1 on the Iranian nuclear program,” he said, referring to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.
“We also have to deal with Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East and will work closely with our European and other partners as we move forward.”
– Opening moves towards conversations –
Biden’s remarks came after his administration agreed to revert to European allies’ nuclear talks with Iran after Trump pulled out of the 2015 deal that put Tehran’s nuclear program on hold.
After Trump withdrew in 2018 and aggressively sanctions many Iranian individuals and organizations in order to punish the country, the Islamic Republic resumed its enrichment and development activities in allegedly violating the pact.
On Thursday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said Washington had accepted an invitation from European Union Political Director Enrique Mora to hold an “informal” meeting with Iran.
Price said the meeting would “discuss a diplomatic path forward”.
At the same time, in an opening gesture, the Biden administration dropped an urge for further sanctions at the Trump-drafted United Nations and lifted restrictions on Iranian diplomats accredited to the United Nations in New York.
However, Tehran responded with a renewed call for the US to lift all sanctions imposed by Trump and continued to threaten to restrict access to UN nuclear inspectors.
Foreign Secretary Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Iran would “immediately reverse” its retaliatory measures if the US “lifted all sanctions imposed, reimposed or redesignated” by Trump.
Earlier on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and the European powers warned that restricting inspectors was a “dangerous” step.
– reverse Trump steps –
Iranian Foreign Minister Saeed Khatibzadeh said there was currently no P5 + 1 “because of the US withdrawal” from the agreement.
“Gestures are fine. But to revive P5 + 1, the US must act: LIFT sanctions. We will answer,” tweeted the spokesman.
A senior US official said the Biden administration was acting in good faith and viewing a meeting as the beginning of an “extended road” to restore and build the nuclear deal.
If Iran refuses to meet, “I think it would be … unfortunate,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
Biden wasn’t sure what he meant by Iran’s destabilizing activities.
However, his comments came after a missile strike on a military base hosting US and coalition forces in northern Iraq that killed a foreign contractor working for the US military and injured 14, including one US soldier and contract workers.
Washington did not blame the attack. However, the missiles appeared to be identical to those used by Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups in attacks in Baghdad.
After the US opened on Thursday, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki signaled that the ball was now in the Iranian court.
Biden reiterated “openness to diplomatic conversation” by using the same channels of the past with the P5 + 1 partners, Psaki said.
“We don’t anticipate any additional steps,” she said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)